WHYTE, FORTUNE and GENOE: Maintaining friendships after a dementia diagnosis can spur feelings of joy and self-worth

Colleen Whyte, Associate Professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies at Brock University; Darla Fortune, Associate Professor of Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University; and Rebecca Genoe, Professor of Kinesiology and Health Studies at University of Regina, had a piece recently published in The Conversation about how friendships can positively impact the well-being of people living with dementia.

They write:

“What would our lives be like if we could no longer depend on our most cherished friendships? The people who know us best, who have been there through our ups and downs, and share a history with us? 

For many people living with dementia, this is a reality. Over 500,000 Canadians are currently living with dementia, and a diagnosis often leads to a loss of friendships and social opportunities. 

The reactions of friends greatly affect the experience of someone living with dementia. When friends distance themselves because they don’t know what to say or presume they no longer know how to interact with their friend, a person with dementia can experience feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

When people living with dementia can depend on their friends, they continue to enjoy meaningful leisure activities, experience feelings of joy and self-worth, and see themselves as valued members of their social circles.

Our research had us interview friends together, asking them to share tips and strategies for navigating dementia. We heard moving stories of deepened bonds of friendship, genuine acceptance and the joy of simply being together.”

Continue reading the full article on The Conversation website.

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